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It’s easy to forget this one. There are so many instances on campus where we get to identify ourselves as our degree. Think about the last time you met a friend of a friend – did the person ask you what you were studying? The answer is probably yes. And it’s a good thing! Your degree tells someone a lot about you.

While it is useful to identify with your degree in social situations, you want to be more cautious in professional situations (career fairs, informational interviews, job interviews, talking with coworkers, etc.). Be aware of the way in which you introduce yourself in these situations. Especially if you are:

-A Music major interested in business
-An Engineering major interested in marketing
-An English major interested in politics

…etc.

While conventions say that your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile must introduce your degree, keep in mind that there are no rules on how you must introduce yourself in conversation.

If you feel trapped when a recruiter’s first question is “What are you studying?” keep in mind that there is a big difference between (a) and (b):

a) I’m a Music major, but I’m really interested in business.
b) I’m a Music major, and I’m really interested in business.

And maybe you’re someone who doesn’t have to worry about this issue right now. Maybe you’re the Linguistics major who is interested in Linguistics. But the chances are pretty high that you will either switch majors, switch interests, or both – so be prepared. Having been a professional drummer, marketer, consultant, and entrepreneur, I can certainly say that I am not my degree!

Chirag Gupta is an entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of AlumTalks.com and currently resides in Chicago. He graduated in 2012 with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering & Management Science and the Integrated Marketing & Communications Certificate.

About Where The Wildcats Are
University Career Services’ alumni blog series “Where The Wildcats Are” features the career experiences and advice from Northwestern University alumni of all ages and stages. Learn where your fellow Wildcats are post-graduation and how they reached their career goals. Are you a Northwestern alumni interested in sharing your career development process with current students? Email careerservices@northwestern.edu and include “Alum blogger” in the subject line.

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